11 Best Hikes in Zion National Park Hikes & Great Things to Do

Zion National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the United States. Every year, millions of people visit Zion to hike, camp, and take in the stunning scenery. But what many visitors don’t realize is that Zion is also a hot spot for geological research.

In fact, Zion was one of the first national parks to be designated as a National Monument by the US government for its scientific importance. In this post, we will explore some of the geology of Zion National Park and how it has shaped the park’s landscape. We will also learn about some of the research that is being conducted in Zion today.

As soon as you enter the park through the south entrance, the visitor center will be on your right. Here you can pick up a map and get information about the hiking routes. You can ask the staff about the water situation on the trails so that you can take precautions in advance.

Zion National Park shuttle services

There are shuttles that provide shuttle service to Zion National Park. You can reach the stops you see on the map via these vehicles. The shuttles stop at all major attractions in the park, including the Visitor Center, Zion Lodge, Weeping Rock, Emerald Pools and Angel’s Landing. You can get off at the stop closest to the route you want to walk and start your walk.

Best time to visit Zion National Park

The best time to visit Zion National Park is in the spring or fall. The weather is milder during these seasons, making it more comfortable to hike and explore the park. The crowds are also smaller during these times of year, so you’ll be able to enjoy the park at a more leisurely pace.

Best hiking trails in Zion National Park

Zion National Park is a Utah treasure. Towering red cliffs, deep canyons, and unique geological features make this one of the most scenic places in North America. The park is also home to a diverse array of plant and animal life.

Zion National Park Southern Utah
Southern of the park Tom Wilberding / Flickr

There are two main ways to explore Zion: by foot or by car. If you’re up for a hike, there are dozens of trails of varying difficulty levels throughout the park. Or, if you’d prefer to relax and take in the scenery from your car, the park offers a scenic drive with several pull-offs where you can stop and enjoy the view.

Angels Landing

Angels Landing is one of the most difficult hikes and scary trails in Zion National Park. Angels Landing is a round-trip hike. The trail winds its way to the summit of Angels Landing. A journey that can be completed in 4-5 hours. To reach the end of the trail you have to overcome steep switchbacks called Walter’s Wiggles. Scout Lookout is the last chance before a narrower journey.

Zion National Park Angels Landing
Rick Vega / Flickr

Along the way, hikers get spectacular views of the Virgin River and the canyon below, 1500 feet above the ground. The last 0.5 miles of the 5.4-mile trail is very strenuous as it ascends a steep cliff face with steep drops on both sides.

Zion National Park Angels Landing Utah
Edward Day / Flickr

Hikers should be careful and hold on to the chains placed along the trail for assistance. The view from the top of Angels Landing is simply breathtaking and well worth the effort required to get there.

The Narrows

The Narrows is a trail where you can get closer to the ground. This part of the park has a deep canyon with walls only a few meters apart at some points. Visitors can hike along the Narrows on a trail that follows the Virgin River. You must also hike within the river. Therefore, getting wet is inevitable.

Zion National Park The Narrows Hiking Trail Utah
Marc Perrella / Flickr

The Narrows has a 16-mile long hiking route. Or, as many tourists do, you can take a shorter route and turn back. Check the weather conditions before you go. Heavy water can make your hike difficult. If it rains a lot, there may even be a risk of flooding.

Zion National Park The Narrows Hikes Utah
Thomas Eckhardt / Flickr

The Narrows is a great place to explore and take photos. The towering rock walls offer a unique and breathtaking perspective. Hiking in the Narrows is an unforgettable experience.

Riverside Walk

The trail follows the Virgin River for 2 miles and is an easy hike with little elevation gain. The trail is a great option for families or those looking for a short hike with beautiful views.

Kolob Canyons

When most people think of Zion National Park, they picture the soaring red cliffs of the main canyon. But there’s much more to this park than meets the eye. Nestled in the southwest corner of Utah, Zion is home to a variety of landscapes, from alpine forests to desert canyons. And while the main canyon is certainly the park’s centerpiece, there are plenty of other places to explore, including Kolob Canyons.

Kolob Canyons is a series of five side canyons located in the northwestern part of Zion National Park. These canyons are narrower and less crowded than the main canyon, making them a great place to escape the crowds and enjoy some solitude. The trail is moderate in difficulty and is suitable for experienced hikers.

Canyon Overlook

The Canyon Overlook hike is one of the most popular trails in Zion National Park. The trailhead is located just a short walk from the park entrance and shuttle stop. The trail is well-marked and easy to follow.

It winds its way up a series of switchbacks to the top of a hill, where it offers stunning views of the canyon below. The total hike is just over a mile round-trip, making it a great option for those looking for an easy hike with beautiful rewards.

Zion National Park Canyon Overlook Utah
Christian Sanchez / Flickr

Zion Canyon Scenic Drive

One of the best ways to experience the beauty of Zion National Park is to take a scenic drive through Zion Canyon. The canyon is full of twists and turns and there are plenty of rest stops along the way where you can stop and enjoy the views.

Observation Point

Observation Point is one of the most popular hiking trails in Zion National Park. The trailhead is located at the end of the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. The trail is a moderate to strenuous hike with an elevation gain of about 2,100 feet. The trail winds its way up through Echo Canyon before reaching Observation Point. From here, hikers are treated to stunning views of the Great White Throne, Angel’s Landing, and the Virgin River below.

East Rim

The East Rim of Zion National Park is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the park. The trailhead is located at the east entrance to the park, and the trail winds its way up through canyons and into the high country. The East Rim hike is a strenuous hike, but it is worth it for the incredible views.

Weeping Rock

The trailhead is located near the park visitor center. The trail is relatively easy, with a few areas of steep elevation change. The trail winds through a canyon and ends at a large rock formation known as Weeping Rock. From here, hikers can enjoy views of the Virgin River and the surrounding cliffs.

Subway

Another one of the hiking routes is the subway and offers great images for photographers.

Emerald Pools

The trailhead is located near the visitor center and shuttle stop #5. The trail is a moderate 2.2 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 400 feet.

Zion National Park Subway Hiking Trail Utah
Subway Albert Wirtz / Flickr
Zion National Park Emerald Pools Hiking Trail Utah
Lower Emerald Pools Mark Pomerleau

The Emerald Pools trail takes you through a forest of pines and maples, past several waterfalls, and ultimately to three different pools: the Lower Emerald Pool, the Middle Emerald Pool, and the Upper Emerald Pool. All three pools are fed by waterfalls, and swimming is allowed in the middle and upper pools (though not recommended due to cold water temperatures).

This is a great trail for families or anyone looking for a relatively easy hike with stunning scenery. Be sure to bring your camera, as there are plenty of photo opportunities along the way!

Things to do in Zion National Park

There is no shortage of things to do in Zion National Park! Hiking and canyoneering are the most popular activities, but there is also plenty of opportunity for camping, bird watching, picnicking, and simply enjoying the stunning scenery. Other popular activities include horseback riding, mountain biking and, depending on the season, kayaking on the Virgin River.

Zion National Park Eastern Utah
Shwetabh Mittal / Flickr

Zion Helicopter Tours

Zion National Park helicopter tours are also among the attractions you can do in the region. It is perfect for those who want to watch the magnificent view of the Virgin River valley from higher altitudes. Those who want to get an aerial view of the region with flight time and therefore more sightseeing options can visit Zion Helicopters.

Zion Helicopter Tours
Zion helicopter tour reviews Zion Helicopters
Zion Helicopter Tours Over Canyon
Zion park helicopter tours Zion Helicopters

Things to know to stay safe

When hiking in Zion National Park, be aware of your surroundings and take precautions to stay safe. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Zion is a desert environment, so carry plenty of water and food.
  • Be aware of weather conditions and plan accordingly. Hiking in hot weather can be dangerous, so hike early in the day or late in the evening to avoid the heat. You can get an idea of the dangers in the area by visiting this address.
  • Water played a big role in the formation of the canyon. Even today, the water still shapes the canyon. In rainy weather, you may need to be careful of flash floods.
  • All trails in Zion are steep and strenuous. Make sure you are physically ready before going on a hike.
  • Always stay on marked trails. Do not try to take shortcuts or leave the trail, as this can be dangerous.

How much does it cost to visit Zion?

Zion National Park entrance fees are $35 per vehicle or $20 per person for a 7-day pass. There is also an annual pass available for $80.

Where to stay in Zion National Park?

There are many accommodation options near Zion National Park, from camping to luxury hotels. Camping is a preferred option for those who want to experience Zion’s natural beauty up close. There are several developed campgrounds within the park, as well as backcountry camping options for those looking for a more rustic experience.

Luxury hotels can be found in the nearby towns of Springdale and Kanab, Utah. These hotels offer amenities such as pools, hot tubs and restaurants, making them a great option for families or those who want a little more luxury during their stay.

Hotels near Zion National Park

There are plenty of hotels near Zion National Park, so it’s easy to find a place to stay during your trip. Here are a few of the most popular hotels in the area:

  • Best Western Plus Zion Hotel & Suites is just a short drive from the park and offers great views of the surrounding mountains. Guests enjoy free breakfast and Wi-Fi, as well as an outdoor pool and hot tub.
  • Hampton Inn Springdale/Zion National Park: Another convenient option for visitors to Zion National Park, this hotel offers free breakfast, Wi-Fi and an outdoor pool.
  • If you are looking for a hotel near Angels Landing, Zion Park Lodge is a great choice for a night before or after a challenging hike.

Camping in Zion National Park

There are few places on earth that offer the variety and beauty of Zion National Park. From the towering red cliffs to the meandering rivers, Zion is a nature lover’s paradise. And what better way to experience it than by camping in one of the park’s many campgrounds?

  • The Zion Canyon Campground & RV Resort is located just minutes from the entrance to Zion National Park. This campground offers full hookups for RVs, as well as tent sites and cabins. The RV sites have concrete pads and the tent sites are on a grassy area. There is a playground, swimming pool, and hot tub on site.
  • Zion Wildflower Resort and Zion White Bison Glamping is a great option for those looking for a more luxurious camping experience. The resort offers a variety of accommodations, including suites, villas, and cottages.
  • You may also want to check out South Campground and Watchman Campground, two of the popular campgrounds in Angels Landing.

How to get to Zion National Park?

There are a few different ways that you can get to Zion National Park. Depending on where you are coming from, the best way to get to Zion National Park may be different.

From Salt Lake City to Zion National Park

If you are coming from Salt Lake City, the best way to get to Zion National Park would be to take I-15 South to I-70 East. From there, take Exit 16 and continue on Utah State Route 9 until you reach the park entrance. The drive should take about 4 hours in total.

From Las Vegas to Zion National Park

If you are coming from Las Vegas, the best way to get to Zion National Park would be to take I-15 North towards Mesquite, Nevada. From there, take Exit 139 and continue on US-93 North/E Pioneer Blvd towards Mt Carmel Junction. From Mt Carmel Junction, take UT-9 East all the way into the park. The drive should take about 3 hours and 15 minutes in total.

The nearest airports to Zion National Park

The nearest airports to Zion National Park are Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) and McCarran International Airport (LAS)

Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) is the closest airport to Zion National Park, located approximately 4 hours away by car. McCarran International Airport (LAS) is located approximately 3 hours away by car.